Moon Likely Formed By A Planet Hitting Earth

Moon Likely Formed By A Planet Hitting Earth

New scientific evidence suggests that Earth underwent a massive moon-forming impact, most likely with a planet the size of Mars.

Despite having lived in our own little corner of the universe for hundreds of thousands of years, there are many things we're just figuring out about it. Take the moon, for example; even though there's only the one that we visited a few times, we're still not sure how it formed in the first place. The prevailing theory is that the Earth was struck by something massive, forcing pieces of debris into orbit that eventually coalesced into our moon. It's a theory that mostly works if whatever we hit was the size of a planet, and new evidence is suggesting that's exactly what seems to have occurred.

The basic idea is that when the solar system first formed, there were many more planetary bodies flying around that wouldn't settle into solar orbits. One of these planets, a Mars-sized object scientists dubbed "Theia", smacked into the Earth and broke off pieces from both objects. Eventually the debris merged into the moon we see in the sky, which scientists have tried to prove by checking lunar chemistry for irregularities.

Most studies haven't been detailed enough to pick up anything noticeable, but now Germany's Georg-August-Universität Göttingen has come across something unique. The lunar samples recovered during moon missions contain higher than expected amounts of oxygen-17, a heavy oxygen isotope, than the Earth normally contains.

"The differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there," explained team lead Daniel Herwartz. "This means two things; firstly we can now be reasonably sure that the giant collision took place. Secondly, it gives us an idea of the geochemistry of Theia.

"Theia seems to have been similar to what we call E-type chondrites. If this is true, we can now predict the geochemical and isotopic composition of the Moon, because the present Moon is a mixture of Theia and the early Earth."

Based on this discovery, Herwartz suspects 30 to 50% of the moon was once part of Theia, but further study is needed. There are still other theories that might explain the oxygen-17 ratios, such as whether objects like comets altered Earth's oxygen chemistry. Getting cracked open by another planet certainly would be the more spectacular explanation, but we'll just have to see how future research proceeds.

Source: National Geographic

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Is this news?

I have memories this theory from years back. Couldn't tell you where from, I thought it was the popular consensus.

Nothing worse than a hit and run celestial body. Leave a note, dammit!

sir neillios:
Is this news?

I have memories this theory from years back. Couldn't tell you where from, I thought it was the popular consensus.

That was my first reaction, but the actual news is about the discovery of isotopes which would validate the impact hypothesis.

This means two things; firstly we can now be reasonably sure that the giant collision took place. Secondly, it gives us an idea of the geochemistry of Theia.

So they banged each other and one of them left, leaving the little one in the other's custody.

Yeah I was like sir neillios and confused over the headline but now I see it's that we have good proof to support the hypothesis.
Which is cool.

sir neillios:
Is this news?

I have memories this theory from years back. Couldn't tell you where from, I thought it was the popular consensus.

You are correct that the theory isn't news; what's new is the isotopic data to lend proof to this theory. Basically, these isotopes serve as a chemical fingerprint -- evidence of the crime. They help us identify the fact that something alien hit our planet.

Rhykker:

sir neillios:
Is this news?

I have memories this theory from years back. Couldn't tell you where from, I thought it was the popular consensus.

You are correct that the theory isn't news; what's new is the isotopic data to lend proof to this theory. Basically, these isotopes serve as a chemical fingerprint -- evidence of the crime. They help us identify the fact that something alien hit our planet.

Ah, yeah, I was confused about that too.

Cue all of the conspiracy theorists claiming that at the centre of the moon is an alien mothership left behind by the crash, and Neil Armstrong found this so they started spreading the rumour that the landing was fake so that the Russians wouldn't try and get to the moon and find it and then they found a part which crashed and they put into Area 51 and ALIENS!

sir neillios:
Is this news?

I have memories this theory from years back. Couldn't tell you where from, I thought it was the popular consensus.

Same here, this is far from a new theory. At best it's evidence to support it but that'd be all. Heck I remember watching a BBC doco that had this theory down as the way it probably happened.

too bad there isn't any finger print database they can look through

sir neillios:
Is this news?

I have memories this theory from years back. Couldn't tell you where from, I thought it was the popular consensus.

Same here, I learned this in high-school.

Material from Theia is also found in Uranus, Herr Scientist.

My theory is that our moon was towed here and abandoned by a superior race of humanoids who found a much better moon and couldn't get rid of the old one. Much like old fiberglass boat hulls are dropped off in Detroit. Now we're stuck with this gray orb until we can find enough dilithium crystals to tow it to the Detroit of Alpha Centauri.

How weird it is that I just read this theory a few weeks ago, specifically because I was curious as hell about the moon. I knew of this theory in a roundabout way years ago and recently rewatched a Futurama episode that mentioned it in passing, hence sparking the interest.

now the question is if its still out there and if it will return to finish the job

Its kinda awesome how "establsihed" "fact" in science can change just like that.
We knew the moon is the product of an impact because of what we know of math and physics and chemnistry tells us, and it was good.
Now we know the moon is the product of an impact because of what we know of math and physics and chemnistry tells us and because we found a new puzzlepiece, and it was good.

Science is in its element and all's right with the world!

:)

Theia and Gaia bumping uglies - must have been quite the cosmic girl-on-girl action.

And all aspiring evil overlords are suddenly questioning if they were thinking big enough for their "Destroy the Earth" plans.

But yeah, this isn't exactly a new theory, but it's nice to see there's been some evidence to give it more legitimacy.

I remember watching a documentary about this about 5 years ago
Yes it is very interesting, but its hardly "news"

Lil_Rimmy:

Ah, yeah, I was confused about that too.

Cue all of the conspiracy theorists claiming that at the centre of the moon is an alien mothership left behind by the crash, and Neil Armstrong found this so they started spreading the rumour that the landing was fake so that the Russians wouldn't try and get to the moon and find it and then they found a part which crashed and they put into Area 51 and ALIENS!

Don't be ridiculous. The aliens primarily traveled here through a gate in Antarctica. Why would they hide a spaceship in the moon?

RicoADF:
At best it's evidence to support it but that'd be all.

Not at best. That's exactly what this is, and what they're claiming this is. This is a thing specifically because there s stronger evidence to better validate this hypothesis.

Jeff Westend:
Material from Theia is also found in Uranus, Herr Scientist.

My theory is that our moon was towed here and abandoned by a superior race of humanoids who found a much better moon and couldn't get rid of the old one. Much like old fiberglass boat hulls are dropped off in Detroit. Now we're stuck with this gray orb until we can find enough dilithium crystals to tow it to the Detroit of Alpha Centauri.

I say we just drop it off in the vicinity of Jupiter. Jupiter has dozens of moons, several of them up on blocks and in a state of disrepair.

NuclearKangaroo:
now the question is if its still out there and if it will return to finish the job

It was drunk, and is terribly sorry. It will probably return, but only as a step in its AA progress.

Kuro Serpentina:
I remember watching a documentary about this about 5 years ago
Yes it is very interesting, but its hardly "news"

It is news. The first direct evidence of this hypothesis has been discovered. It's first being reported this month, this year. Your documentary didn't have that, and I can be pretty certain of that because it's a new discovery. Unless you're a Time Lord or violating the Temporal Prime Directive, you didn't see this on a five+ year old documentary.

RA92:
Theia and Gaia bumping uglies - must have been quite the cosmic girl-on-girl action.

I think they were just doing it because celestial culture pressured them to put on a show.

NuclearKangaroo:
now the question is if its still out there and if it will return to finish the job

Your dipper avatar made your entire post completely LOL worthy. Read it in his voice and everything.

As for the moon, cool. I'm surprised to hear things like this, it's fun finding out how messed up the Universe can be. planets that rain molten glass, billions of year old space brew held back by the fact that arsenic amongst other elements are heavily present in it as well. "Godzilla planet". It's all cool stuff to read about.

I'm pretty sure that this has been the leading theory for ages anyway, although I thought that the impact was from something smaller than the moon and it sort of "stole" (not a technical term) some of the Earth's mass in the impact.

Uhhh... Not to bash the person who wrote this article but this is REALLY old news. I remember learning about this when I was in 3rd grade, so this doesn't seem like as much of a mind-blowing discovery that you're making it out to be. Sure its nice to have more evidence towards it, but there was a good amount of evidence to begin with if I remember correctly.

I'm too lazy to go to Wikipedia right now. Has the theory that the moon was some stranded asteroid that Earth has reached to and said 'that's mine now' been disproved? Or that it was formed together with Earth?

Could you imagine the view from one of those worlds at that time? That would be crazy. And would probably feel like some planet wide mega quake, in the moments before you were probably obliterated.

So how does a difference in the amount of contained isotopes proves the theory, it escapes me, anyone care to explain? Especially since oxygen 17 ratio can be explained by other theories like they said in the article. It seems to me their discovery did not make anything more or less probable but just introduced another piece of the puzzle.

I nevef bought this theory. Th chemical distribution of the earth simply don't fit with a Final Fantasy level impact.

Zachary Amaranth:
Nothing worse than a hit and run celestial body. Leave a note, dammit!

They did. You see it almost every night.

OT: Didn't we already know this? I learned this in my senior year astronomy class.

Th37thTrump3t:
They did. You see it almost every night.

That's just the collateral damage.

OT: Didn't we already know this? I learned this in my senior year astronomy class.

It's a leading hypothesis--now with evidence.

are we now being trolled with random crap and theories?

I'm pretty sure this hypothesis is older than I am. But yeah, this isotope discovery could be some sort of proof.

 

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